Reviewed by Didi Groenhoff
Even though he often feels powerless and is certainly not always welcome, social worker Pete gives his all to help deprived children and their parents in a small town in Montana. This is the real America, where for many people life is a struggle. Pete sees it all, and tries to reach out. But he’s not entirely the hero he seems to be. In his personal life he meets the same struggles as the people he works with. Despite being a lonesome man that spends many of his evenings seeking company in bars, Pete tries to break with his family which he finds stifling. And then there’s his daughter Rachel, who he hardly ever sees because she is living with her mother. Leaving his personal problems untouched Pete acts only to help people he hardly knows and is not personally attached to. And what interesting people they are…
The story is brilliantly told. Using only a few words Smith Henderson sets each scene in such a way that you virtually see it happen in front of your very eyes. Reading this book will be a source of jealousy for everyone that once tried to write himself.
But the best thing about Fourth of July Creek is not the catching story or the amazing style. The most fascinating accomplishment is that Smith Henderson succeeds in tying this narrative of ordinary people living in the rough Montana mountain lands to big American themes like Freedom and Religion. In between the lines he discusses the complicated relationship between the Citizens and their State, and the question of who bears what responsibilities and rights. Henderson forces us to think about the foundations of the USA, where they led to success and where they resulted in failure. Placing the story in the late 70’s and early 80’s shows us that what we consider to be problems of our time might not be quite that. Touching on all these big subjects does not do any harm to the narrative, flooding my brain with thoughts and considerations and leaving me truly astounded after finishing.
This book is not a critique on the American way of life, nor does it celebrate it. It sets you thinking. Just like a good book should.
You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.
Ebook available of Fourth of July Creek.